Our Frayed Edges Are Showing

By on Dec 14, 2017 in Blog |

Yesterday a shock wave rocked San Francisco with news that Mayor Ed Lee had died suddenly of a heart attack. There was no advance warning, but what happened next was humanity at its best and most beautiful. I began to see posts from people that opposed the mayor politically, filled with nothing but care and concern for his family. This seems to happen. We come together and find compassion and even care when tragedy strikes, but in our day to day interactions, we are content to spew hatred and ugliness. I want to live in a world where we treat people like they have value and we might lose them without warning. This year the word that has been the most prominent in my heart and mind is reconciliation. It feels as if we are coming apart at the seams at times. Our frayed edges show our ugliest truths and our utter lack of compassion for the “other” has felt discouragingly obvious. How do we seek and find reconciliation in the midst of this grimy, slimy, precipice where we find ourselves? Reconciliation resonates deeply within my heart, because I believe that humans desire to be reconciled at their core. We desire reconciliation with God, self and others. When we are isolated and feeling ripped from others, our hearts grieve. True connection requires risk. It costs us. The fear of trusting people with our true selves, with our hearts, is too great at times and keeps us isolated in our dark, cold reality. But sometimes when I most need it I get a glimpse of hope. Last night I watched in awe as a group of 17 parents graduated from our Triple P (Positive Parenting Program). At our first session the mistrust and caution in the room was palpable. As we journeyed together one thing became clear: these parents felt isolated and were deeply lonely in their struggle. Parenting teenagers is a challenging task no matter what the situation. Over 12 weeks I watched a group of strangers become an interconnected web of deeply loving parents. They listened without judging, supported without advising, loved without reservation. Parents who previously felt like failures began to feel supported and understood. Their pride and confidence coupled with newfound hope, was one...

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Comfort in a Sweater

By on Apr 14, 2017 in Blog |

As I sat and listened to the news I had been dreading, I was aware of the softness of the cozy sweater… Two and a half years ago I had the honor of speaking at “Coffee Talk”, a women’s gathering for Cornerstone Church in San Francisco. I shared from my momma heart about the trauma and tragedy that punctuates the lives of so many precious young people we serve. I spoke about how hard it is to get into the lifeboat when you are in the deep sea unable to touch bottom, treading water for as long as you can remember and fighting the strong tow pulling you under. This visual of everyday life for so many is tragic and overwhelming. Two days later I was in my office working on a grant proposal when I heard a loud commotion at the front door. I heard a woman shout, “I was at Coffee Talk on Saturday and I want to talk to Dawn!” My first thought was to shut my door and hide. What in the world did I say that would prompt this? That’s how Karen came into our lives. Karen and her daughter have become part of the Sunset Youth Services family. She often shows up with children’s books for our little library or second hand items she saw somewhere and “knew so and so would love.” She has created beautiful flower arrangements for the center, our gala and weddings of center families. She sees a need and works to fill it if she can. Part of the magic of SYS is there is no line between service providers and clients. This has often confused other organizations and Social Workers, but to us, it feels the most authentic in terms of supporting and helping find stable footing for vulnerable people. Having no line also creates opportunities for everyone to bring what they have to the table to share with others. The goal is to build on each one’s strengths and not have anyone feel like they have nothing to offer. I didn’t grow up with a sister, in fact, I only had one sibling and he was definitely not like a sister. I saw friends with sisters sharing clothes, fighting...

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